Southeast Asian mobile giant SingTel today announced a 24 percent annual increase in net profit on the back of steady growth at its wholly-owned subsidiaries in Singapore (SingTel) and Australia (Optus). Net profit at the Singapore-based firm for the quarter ended 31 December 2009 rose to SGD991 million (US$696 million), beating analyst expectations of around SGD948 million, according to a Bloomberg poll. Underlying net profit rose 18.2 percent to SGD990 million, while group revenue rose 20 percent to SGD4.45 billion compared to the year-ago quarter. Revenue from Singapore increased 1.5 percent to SGD1.53 billion and Australia rose 4.8 percent to AUD2.30 billion (US$2 billion). The Australian performance was helped by the stronger Australian dollar, which appreciated 27 percent against the Singapore dollar during the quarter. “The Singapore and Australia businesses stood out for their exceptional performance in mobile under highly competitive market conditions,” said CEO Chua Sock Koong. SingTel’s total (aggregate) customer base increased 23 percent to reach 284.7 million by year-end.
The highlight among the group’s regional mobile subsidiaries (where SingTel owns minority stakes) was Telkomsel in Indonesia. Telkomsel’s mobile customer base grew 25 percent, or 16.3 million from a year ago, to 81.6 million by the end of the year. In Singapore dollar terms, Telkomsel’s pretax profit rose 53 percent to SGD238 million, underpinned by revenue growth of 15 percent. In India, the 33-percent owned Bharti grew pretax profit in Singapore dollar terms by 4.6 percent to SGD235 million, though ARPU fell 29 percent from a year ago as Bharti lowered tariffs to maintain its competitiveness.